Research, Balance, and other Universal Rules of Efficiency

February 1, 2024

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Have you ever seen how the flight attendants' workspace is organized? They have to feed 200 people, serve drinks, sell perfumes, and provide first medical aid if necessary. All this with a few meters of working/storage space.

Although not all restaurant and catering business spaces are as restricted as airplanes, the level of organization is similar. All the things must be placed at the right spot, be easy to reach and not cause inconvenience to people using it.

But what about UX design? The buttons will not grow mould in one week and the icons won’t fall from the top shelf and spill all over the screen. Yet the underlying principle is similar. Everything has to be organized in the most efficient way to make users feel comfortable. Food industry employees work in the kitchen for hundreds of hours and achieve amazing levels of speed to serve their clients. When it comes to the UX, users have to understand how to use the app just as fast, otherwise, they’ll leave without looking back. The means to reach both of these objectives can be similar.

Look for the golden middle. Balancing between too much and not enough

When a restaurant has 30 different kinds of meat dishes, it may cause distrust: how do they manage to keep it all fresh? On the other hand, having just a couple of meat and fish dishes but having no vegan option is a big flaw, too.

In UX design, too many elements on one screen make users get lost. On the other hand, extra minimalist designs can’t include all the essential features and will confuse people. In a product like Spoonfed that connects providers with customers directly, there is another level of balance: the design on both sides has to consider the needs of people who order food (make it smooth and still give a high level of confidence even when they are high value and complex), and providers (save them time on logistics and customer support).

Know your competitors AND users

That’s what many food providers get wrong. They study the market and find out that there are many pizzerias around and not a single poke bowl café, so they decide to open one. But do people in this neighborhood want to eat poké? The same happens in product design. A little tip: whenever studying the competitors, check the reviews that customers left on App Store or Google Maps: it will get you real knowledge on what users love and hate about the competitors. The users are the best guide for a development roadmap. At Spoonfed, user requests are the main source of ideas for new features.

When in doubt, rely on best practices

Even if we can’t get to know each client individually, there are always general rules that help to please people. And — surprise! — they work for both UX design and food logistics. Here are some of them:

  • People like customizable options (adding toppings to a crêpe or a customized navigation menu made of your most used items, like a dashboard which is different for restaurant manager, chef, and accountant)
  • People like it when you speak to them in their language (a list of ingredients below each foreign name on an exotic food menu or UX copy written in simple words without technical terms)
  • People need an easy way to get help (such as an attentive server or waiter who isn't always looking the wrong way when you are trying to get attention... software users really appreciate a support chat icon on a web page where it takes less than a handful of minutes to find someone to talk to)

And the list is far from being exhaustive as the art of making people happy has no limits.

Never stop research. Learn from your mistakes and evolve

Customer reviews should not be the thing that only the marketing team cares about. The philosophy of design thinking is all about iterations. UX/UI designers’ work shouldn’t stop after the launch. All the successful digital products collect data, analyze it, and make adjustments to design based on the findings. In food logistics, keeping track of the performance and defining what works and what doesn’t is important, too. Using new software, collaborating with new providers, and adding new items to the menu…it all keeps the business alive and striving.

Why is there so much in common between such different fields?

Because in essence, their success depends on the same thing: customer happiness. Good design is about serving people's needs, as well as the food industry. They walk different paths, but rely on similar principles.

And that is why the collaboration between food logistics experts and a seasoned UI/UX design agency, like ELEKEN, results in a tool that gives catering providers a greater level of efficiency while also being an easy, enjoyable and confident experience for both providers and customers.


Image credit: ​​KC Chung